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Veterans Day – 11 November 2015

Written by J Rawls

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy (Inaugural Address, 20 January 1961).


Today we celebrate Veterans Day in the United States of America – and Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This is a day we recognize those that have served the nation in a military capacity for freedom, justice, and the continuation of our way of life. These men and women embody the great spirit of our culture and ideals in the most refined form. Carrying with them our values, integrity and morals, they go forth, knowing the cost may be their very lives, to protect our liberties, defend the defenseless, and bring justice. Willing to fight, they wage war; willing to die, they sacrifice; and willing to serve, they put others before themselves. Today is truly a day to recognize those that give so much; the Warfighters.

Veterans Day in the United States began as Armistice Day after WWI. Due to WWII, military organizations and veterans groups, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the day to reflect all veterans. Though the date has made some changes in the past, the current date is the original. The VA states – per their Office of Public Affairs, History of Veterans Day – that, “Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”

Not every veteran has seen a combat zone; in the United States alone, roughly 2.2 million have seen recent combat, but this is a fact that does not matter in reference to this day. Each veteran signed up for the same thing. Though some chose to take a direct path; all paths lead to one objective. There can be a common debate in circles concerning combat veterans and veterans of peacetime service, and there is even a further debate between drafted and volunteering, but one thing is for certain… All veterans stepped up to serve. In our time, we can say with certainty that veterans know better than all others the true meaning of those words President Kennedy spoke in 1961. Because of their service, though there may exist distinctions, a nation’s respect for that service encompasses all branches, service times, and occupations. Veterans Day is for one and all that signed the contract and spoke the oath.

The military has one ultimate purpose: to fight. Through proper planning and training, the prayer is that war may never come. This means peace has been achieved or at least the perception of peace is in control. Peace should never undermine the fact that the military should remain ready with the best equipment and training possible. Improper planning has proven to result in catastrophic events time and time again. Even in peacetime, our military stands prepared.

Service members carry pride of their actions far past their time in service. They have a right to be proud. Less than 7% of the U.S. population consists of veterans. These individuals come from all religious/nonreligious backgrounds, walks of life, races, cultures, and genders to stand together as the foundation of a nation. They should be seen as the example, the standard, to which we should strive to emulate. That is not to say they lack the ability to do wrong, no, but they do consistently prove the ability to do better.

Too often we overlook their accomplishments and struggles. Too often we jump on a new bandwagon of flashing lights for those in need, forgetting those that need us at home. We currently cut the VA budget by $1.4 billion, only to allocate $1.3 billion to Syrian refugees. To make that simple; we allowed politics to take funding away from those that put their lives on the line for each and every one of us to fund those that will not stand up for themselves or anyone else. We validate the victim only to punish the protector. Who will bring the justice? The same folks that always do: Warfighters.

Wars don’t end with each side simply disappearing. Conflict must be corrected by stability through order. You don’t take healthy cells out of a body, separate them, and hope they will build a new human. You must remove the infection first, and then hope the body can heal. At least, you introduce medication to assist. Warfighters are the medication to defeat mass corruption. Destroy the bad, then the good can rebuild.

A flippant attitude towards foreign policy, global structure, and politics lends to leave the veteran as the rusting shotgun in the shed. People feel secure knowing it exists but don’t wish to use the elbow grease to get rid of the rust. For example, the American people complain about the Department of Defense budget (currently found here), yet projected numbers for defense will not even include a quarter of government spending; even current numbers don’t go over. Health and pensions take up over half of all government spending combined. Unfortunately, the money allotted to help veterans comes from health, not the Department of Defense. It’s separate under the Department of Veterans Affairs in the annual budget. Though they have a large budget, nothing seems to get better overall. The real truth of the matter is, that money isn’t what is needed to fix the problem. Veterans have had the same problem for years; very few ever show consistent interest in their struggle. As for the rest, it is most often short-lived.

Even James Fallows summarized his description of the “Chickenhawk Nation” in his piece on The Great Tragedy of the American Military as one where we live in a society today seriously detached from its military and its veterans, who revere it in words only because it makes them feel better about themselves, whose politics and national interests don’t actually take it seriously, and who support going to war, only so long as someone else is going. Like that rusting shotgun, the nation today is one who takes comfort in knowing it’s there, but who refuses to be the one to use it, clean it, maintain it, or repair it – always believing it’s someone else’s job. This is the very heart of the problem veterans themselves are all too aware of; it’s a wide-spread plague of indifference, to which even studies like this one provide direct support to the aging shotgun example and Fallows’ thesis. People are detached and indifferent to the veteran plight because the Warfighter existence is one largely misunderstood. It’s never really impacted their own lives in any meaningful way.

The daily grind of average life is not comparable in many shapes and forms to that of the military; to the Warfighters existence. Veterans often stay behind the scenes in our everyday business as they remain blended in with humble resolve. Many struggle with hidden wounds that make simple functions difficult for them. Their personal motivation and pride push them on to stay their course. By will alone, they continue to fight their own battles far removed from the norm. Some turn their struggle into gain, coining the term “Post Traumatic Growth.” This allows them to conquer their issues and make them into strengths. Their experiences fuel new abilities as they adapt and overcome abnormal situations.

We overlook these struggles in the military sense as “acceptable loss” when looking at injuries. Retention demands fresh minds and bodies to continue the mission. The mission becomes all that is and ever will be. The mission, as construed and vague as usually described, is to establish, produce, and maintain freedom for the American people. Veterans expend their bodies in this machine geared toward freedom. In the civilian world, veterans are seen as broken and dysfunctional on a lowly standard, or in another light, veterans are seen as heroes-immortal and grand. In truth, they’re in more of the middle ground, but few words fully describe veterans by short amounts. The spectrum is too vast, yet we can understand why. We can understand that they all took an oath, signed their life away, and took a path rarely chosen: freely stepping into that machine that at any one time may consume them.

Veterans ending up with injuries were told they would receive adequate care from their government upon leaving service. What does adequate mean? In military terms, adequate does not mean efficient or popular. Adequate means the bare minimum, an example: soldier loses leg, the remainder heals, and then we strap a stick to it so they can stand up-right. Adequate is a term that should be dropped from medical standards. Is this always the case? No, many veterans do receive above average care, but many receive none. Like the definition of veteran, their care spectrum varies too much. Don’t let injuries define them. Many are resolute in their capabilities and see no obstacle that cannot be crossed. Veterans are determined and dedicated; sometimes to a fault. I must repeat this: Don’t let injuries define them. Why? Because just like you, there is more in there than what others may perceive.

The important lesson to take away from our message today is one of reflection. People are outraged over videos of animals being mistreated, children being yelled at by police, or an actress being photographed by paparazzi while crying; yet barely become audible when reports of veterans dying while waiting for care are made public. Many Americans are confused on how freedom is maintained; no veteran is confused. Take time today to ponder what freedom is to you, then talk to a veteran about it if you are willing and able to do so. Veterans are deserving of our thanks and respect. Don’t let [contorted] [facts] (notice each of those words are linked separately) or the reasons wars exist in the first place deter you from being kind to those that strive to keep your freedoms intact, or better yet, don’t let a lack of understanding keep you from willingly going out of your way to offer some meaningful support backed up with meaningful actions.

Have a Happy Veterans Day from The Warfighter Journal.
We would like to thank all Veterans from past to present for their service and sacrifice.
To all Veterans from all the allied nations who have committed their lives to selfless service,
We Salute You.


Sound Off!

How are YOU celebrating Veterans Day / Remembrance Day this November 11th?

In what ways do YOU personally Remember, Thank, and Honor Veterans?

Share your Veterans Day thoughts with us in the Comments Below and let us know what Veterans Day means to YOU!



References:

State, U.S. Department of. The Syrian Refugee Crisis. Web. Jan. 07, 2015

Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of. History of Veterans Day. Office of Public Affairs, Web, July 20, 2015

About the author

J Rawls

Jeremy Rawls is a former active duty Marine with two combat tours in Iraq. He was part of the invasion in 2003 and later returned for the take down of Fallujah. After leaving the Corps, he worked as a contractor for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security with two contracts in Afghanistan. He is currently a freelance writer.

  • Mark Currier

    It was a great day. I raised a new U.S. Flag in my garden and prepared the old one for proper disposal at my VFW. Dinner with the family and conversation with my Battle Buddies from 1976 thru 2010.

    • Wow! Sounds like you had a busy schedule!

  • I’m celebrating Veterans Day by calling up a few old friends, as well as many members of my own family, and saying hello. We’re all vets, and it’s great just to catch up and see how everyone is doing. In response to the second question, I remember, thank, and honor veterans by volunteering my personal time to help out some vet charities near and dear to me, as well as make regular donations to help support them throughout the year.

    What’s everyone else doing for Veterans Day?